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Don’t ignore problems that Oxford Street pedestrianisation would cause

16 June, 2017

Peter Hartley of Westminster Living Streets

• I WAS staggered to read the article about Peter Hartley of Westminster Living Streets (An activist takes to the streets, Westminster People, June 9).

While I understand and support efforts both to improve air quality and reduce deaths and injuries from traffic in Oxford Street, there are many other considerations which have to be examined.

Mr Hartley compares the effect of banning all traffic along Oxford Street with Carnaby Street and Leicester Square. This beggars belief as the scale of the traffic using Oxford Street is vastly greater than in respect of either Carnaby Street or Leicester Square.

Accommodation has to be made for emergency vehicles, rubbish collection and delivery vehicles, especially for the significant number of shops which do not have back doors.

Taxis and minicabs would have to be displaced in a way which will not adversely affect shoppers as they have many other places they could use, for example, Westfield, Knightsbridge and Brent Cross.

Oxford Street is in a different league from Carnaby Street and Leicester Square and to pretend otherwise is simply fantasy.

However the most ridiculous part was his lack of appreciation of the effect banning buses from Oxford Street would have.

At the moment 43 per cent of journeys to Oxford Street are made by bus involving hundreds of thousands of people every day.

It is not just “local residents” who are affected, Mr Hartley, but people who come from much further afield to work, shop, or visit, who use buses to, along, and through, Oxford Street.

To say “the first month may be difficult, but after that it’s history” ignores the problems for thousands of people especially those who cannot use the Underground.

I have a balance problem and I do not have a car which means that I rely totally on buses to get me in and around London. There are many people in the same position – people in wheelchairs, on crutches, parents with children in pushchairs, anyone with a mobility issue etc.

We can’t walk from Marble Arch to Oxford Circus or Tottenham Court Road. You may be able to do this, Mr Hartley. I also have problems with mobility. I cannot.

Buses are a lifeline for me and other people. Using taxis is unaffordable for many people and Mr Hartley’s views just make their lives much more difficult.

If Oxford Street were to be pedestrianised I would not be able to go to it at all and I would also be stopped from using central London as I could not get a bus through Oxford Street. I would not be the only one and this would affect the livelihood of shops, restaurants etc.

Reduce the level of traffic in Oxford Street to improve air quality and reduce accidents, but do not ignore the problems that pedestrianisation would cause.

I hope the Mayor of London, Transport for London and Westminster Council take account of the very real problems which Mr Hartley chooses to ignore and they do not allow pedestrianisation to take place.

I urge anyone who will be adversely affected by pedestrianisation to respond to TfL’s consultation document as soon as possible as the period for responses ends very soon.

Make sure your voice is heard. Don’t allow the glib answers which ignore very real problems to go unchallenged.

SUSAN KAYE
Grove End Road, NW8

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